Tel: 372 501 4740
This little café and chocolatier is a good place to take a break from trekking through Old Town. The handmade truffles are named for operas, so you could have a Faust (pistachio praline), Otello (amaretto), or a Baileys-laced Madame Butterfly plus a cup of dense, dark hot chocolate, served with a bowl of whipped cream. The boxed sweets also make good gifts to tote back home.
Open Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to 11 pm, Sundays 11 am to 7 pm.
Tel: 372 611 7290
Tallinn has several excellent Italian restaurants, which isn't surprising considering that the town attracts a lot of Italian tourists. But Bocca, located in Old Town, is easily the most stylish. The interior juxtaposes exposed brick and a vaulted ceiling with furnishings that look as if they're straight out of a B&B Italia showroom. Similarly, the food adds a new twist to traditional staples, such as salmon carpaccio with an avocado-and-strawberry salad, lemon-and-cinnamon- ricotta–stuffed ravioli, and lamb sweetbreads cooked in Parmesan. There's also a bar with an extensive list of cocktails, including the earthquake—a blend of gin, whiskey, absinthe, and grenadine that's so potent, Bocca has a one-per-customer policy.
Open daily noon to midnight.
Tel: 372 646 4444
Everything at this delightful restaurant—including the breads, pastries, and ice cream—is made on the premises. The mostly French menu includes a mushroom cappuccino soup with Brie mille-feuille, escargot in a Pernod-flavored béchamel sauce, and some international add-ons, such as pasta and Waldorf salad. Bonaparte is housed in a 13th-century building (one of the oldest in Tallinn) and has a suitably rustic atmosphere, but the neighboring Bonaparte Deli is one of the town's most modern food shops. It's also the best place to pick up picnic fixings and a bottle of wine, or just a scoop of brown bread–and-basil ice cream (47 Pikk; 372-646-4024).
Open Mondays through Saturdays noon to midnight.
Tel: 372 644 0470
Controvento's location—down a narrow alleyway in Old Town—is so impossibly charming you'll think you've stumbled onto a stage set. More traditional than Bocca, this Italian-owned restaurant is the place to go for hearty bowls of pasta and excellent thin-crust pizzas. From the pomodoro e mozzarella to the cannelloni con ricotta e spinaci and the obligatory tiramisu, there's nothing surprising on the menu. But you come here for old favorites, not experimentation. In the summer, try to nab one of the outdoor tables; if it's crowded, you can usually squeeze in at the bar to eat.
Open daily noon to 10:45 pm.
Tel: 372 645 5252
Located in the city center, across the street from the foreign ministry, Eesti Maja (Estonian House) offers the most authentic native fare in Tallinn. Its rooms are decorated with dolls and knickknacks, so it resembles the home of a kindly Estonian grandmother. For those unfamiliar with this cuisine, the menu may seem a little less cuddly. But the home-style provisions are right on the mark, from the quirkily named "Gossip's Fate" (tongue served with horseradish) and "Cold Piggy" to national dishes such as sült (gelled pork) and verivorst (black pudding made with blood sausage and barley).
Open daily 11 am to 11 pm.
Tel: 372 646 4052
Visitors ring the bell at the entrance to the Egoist, Tallinn's most expensive restaurant, and are greeted by a butler who escorts them to their table. In keeping with the spot's curious name, chef and owner Dmitri Damianov has festooned the walls with portraits of himself. Within the four dining areas—each as grand as a high-society prewar parlor room—diners are treated like royalty and served refined cuisine that is lovingly prepared. Try the lobster carpaccio and pan-fried foie gras, and ask the sommelier—one of Estonia's best—to lead you through the 1,000-bottle wine list.
Open Mondays through Saturdays noon to midnight.
Tel: 372 640 6800
The dramatic entrance to Gloria is carved out of the Old Town wall—built more than 100 years before Columbus landed in the New World. Decking the walls with his private collection of Art Nouveau originals, owner Dmitri Damianov (who is also behind the Egoist) outfitted the space in the high style of the 1930s. Knowledgeable staffers match bottles from the stellar wine list with menu favorites—like roast duck breast in cream sauce—and happily serve Cuban cigars after dinner.
Open daily noon to 11:30 pm.
Tel: 372 641 8288
Indigo walls, romantic lighting, and tasteful seafaring accessories—like the model clipper ship on the well-stocked bar—make for pleasant surroundings at this seafood spot in Old Town. The restaurant's name translates to "Swordfish," and some of Estonia's best fish dishes, from the traditional to the innovative, are served here. The chef has a thing for fruit flavors: Shark is drizzled with cherry sauce, fried fish is served with apple, and papaya tops the beef filet.
Open daily noon to midnight.
Tel: 372 644 2031
Must Lammas (which means "Black Sheep") serves hearty Caucasian fare—that is, standards from countries between the Black and Caspian seas, such as Georgia and Armenia. Top-notch waiters greet guests with shots of the house firewater and strips of dried beef to start their meals. Diners move on to spicy lamb soup, stuffed grape leaves, stewed mutton, and grilled pork. The restaurant mainly caters to carnivores, but an eggplant appetizer dredged in garlic and walnuts and a warm cheese pie with spinach and brõnza cheese sauce will keep vegetarians content.
Open Mondays through Saturdays noon to 11 pm.
6E Mere Puiestee
Tel: 372 661 6150
For a glamorous, decadent evening, Ö, located just outside Old Town's walls, is hard to beat. The interior is strangely ethereal, hung with dark, gauzy drapes and lit by chandeliers whose lightbulbs are adorned with angel wings. The modern Estonian cuisine is similarly lavish and uses products sourced from the country's lakes, farms, and forests: Veal-stuffed tortellini accompanies pike perch from Lake Peipsi, and blueberries from Saaremaa (an island in the Baltic Sea) are used in a sauce for venison. You'll find it just outside the walls of Old Town.
Open Mondays through Saturdays noon to 11 pm, Sundays 1 to 10 pm.
Tel: 372 631 0549
Located just inside Old Town's walls, this fashionable café,lounge, cocktail bar, and restaurant has futuristic white furnishings and a glowing bar that make it one of Tallinn's most unexpected spaces. At night, DJs play everything from club music to jazz and draw in a cool young crowd (although there is no dance floor). The extensive menu is nothing if not ambitious—it ranges from snacks like deep-fried cheese puffs to over-complicated entrées such as coffee-flavored roast lamb with duchess potatoes and figs. By day, it's far more sedate—especially in the morning, when less fashion-conscious locals and tourists drop in to breakfast on porridge and fried eggs with bacon.
Open Mondays through Thursdays 10 am to 2 am, Fridays 10 am to 3 am, Saturdays 11 am to 3 am, and Sundays 11 am to 2 am.
4 Rävala Puiestee
Tel: 372 666 3456
Vertigo (which the locals pronounce ver-TEE-go) opened in 2006 and took Tallinn dining to new heights, quite literally. It's located at the top of a tower block opposite the Radisson SAS Hotel and the contemporary cuisine of chef-owner and TV personality Imre Kose stands out in a town that often sticks with traditional, local fare. To the delight of Tallinn's hippest patrons and visiting business executives, Kose might pair tuna tartare with a smoked-chile confiture, or enliven lamb ragout with black truffles. In addition to the fine-dining restaurant—which looks like something out of a Fred Astaire movie—Vertigo includes a rooftop terrace (where a DJ is usually spinning), a brasserie, and a lounge. Whether you go for a dinner, cocktails (the house drink is a mojito deluxe, made with a splash of Champagne), or the Sunday brunch, reservations are necessary.
Dining room: Open Mondays through Fridays noon to midnight, Saturdays 6 pm to midnight, and Sundays 4 to 10 pm. Brasserie: Open Mondays through Saturdays noon to midnight, Sundays 11 am to 10 pm.